Friday, July 15, 2005

The Knowledge

Which is the toughest memory test in the world?

This morning, I happend to pick up a black cab for the last leg of the journey to work. Since there were traffic snarls and signals, happend to talk to the driver.[He strictly dint talk when the vehicle was moving or when he had to concentrate].

I had earlier heard about The Knowledge,[the answer for the earlier question, that is the qualifying exam for london taxi drivers.] and wanted to hear from the horse's mouth. Here is what it is,
The names and exact locations of the 25000 streets in london and the 1400 locations of interests have to be remembered!! Tough? Now hear this, the shortest distance between all of these will also have to be remembered. Anybody to calculate the combinations??

Typcially, it takes about 3 to 4 years for learning this completely. If the student is highly proficient and spends all time into this, it can be done in 2 to 3 years.

And wait, this is what Wikepedia had to tell me 'There is some evidence that doing The Knowledge can result in measurable physical changes in the brain of a potential cab driver'!! Physical changes in the brain!!

I asked my driver how does he look at the streets of london. He said, he has a perfect map on his mind with each and evey landmark and street name marked in it. Everytime he drives through the city, he feels like moving a finger over the map.

There are other strict rules for getting the GreenBadge[the license for london taxi driver].

So much for the power of the human brain. I asked him if he has used the GPS products. He said they are very slow!!!

Equally strict are the rules regarding the make of the cabs. They are so strict that, one company in Conventy specially makes them. One of those regulations is that the vehicle should have a 25feet turning circle.!!

How nice, if we had similar rules for taxis and autos in namma ooru.!!

BBC article on brain growth
Scientific American frontier on 'The Knowledge'


At Fri Jul 15, 09:42:00 AM CDT, Anonymous lxsn said...

One of the many things that impressed me in this beautiful city of Chicago is the Cab-sytem. The way these drivers behave, the discipline they follow ( not to forget .. most of the cab drivers here are Desis/ pakistanese also also students who do that as a part-time). In every Cab, there is a small board hanging for the back seaters to see where in the cab drivers profile is given. There is an information which goes as this " This person is suppossed to take you to the place u need to go talking the most preferable route ".Also there is a phone no cum address where in the commuters can send their complaints as well as appreciations for the Cab driver. Also outside everi apartment complexes , Cab drivers will be waiting in a queue to drive the people coming out. The system is so well regulated minimising every possibility of corruption.

One of the many things I hate abt Chennai , unfortunately my hometown, is the roller-coaster auto ride. It will not be surprising to hear very soon, where u can see people gazing at u awestruck if u come by an auto rather than a Benz. autos are proving to be so costly nowadays there. Namma oorlayum auto drivers kku ellam therinjurku.. except that they have the longest distance between the locations instead of the shortest.. Mothalla namma oorla Meter pottu vandi edakkunumnu rule podattum..
Adutha padam auto drivers ellam ( not to spare even one) "vadham" panra mathry Shankar eduthalam aacharyam illa esp Chennai auto drivers..


At Fri Jul 15, 10:40:00 AM CDT, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

impossible in india,we can only dream of such a thing in india

At Fri Jul 15, 10:44:00 AM CDT, Blogger nin said...

nice reading.....

At Fri Jul 15, 11:16:00 AM CDT, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

Got to know about something today...Good.

At Sun Jul 17, 11:58:00 PM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey what's all this chennai bashing.

bumpy rides in chennai actually teach us that life's full of undulations. take the philosophy and forget the backpain guys!

I don't know whether the system you have mentioned will work in namma ooru. somehow whatever comes to namma ooru becomes desified ( will someone suggest this to the makers of the next dictionary?)

At Mon Jul 18, 01:35:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


check out my blog dedicated to the Ramayana

At Mon Jul 18, 01:39:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way

your perspective on god was interesting
how will you account for this statement from the gita

' arjuna what else do you need to know, know that I support this universe with a fragment of my being and the rest remaining unchanged.

gita chapter 10 verse 42.

At Mon Jul 18, 07:10:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

lxsn as us said, the hire transports will get better in our place only when it is well organized, and proper control is exercised.

And since this doesnt seem to happen in the near future, as vatsan said, we can just keep dreaming.

thanks avik and kasthuri, keep visiting.

Anand thans for visiting. Vibhuthiyoga is itself a vast subject would love to take in a seperate post. [esp. verses from 'Hanthathekatha yishyami...']

At Tue Jul 19, 04:01:00 PM CDT, Blogger AF said...

Hmmm..we tough i guess to even become a cab driver in london..


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